Afro-Tradosports In Our Schools in Africa
In June 1993, the Sports Unit of the Federal Ministry of Education, Nigeria, organized a workshop at the University of Ibadan Conference Center on Nigerian Traditional Sports.
The theme of the workshop was “Popularizing Nigerian Indigenous Games in Nigerian Schools.” This workshop was organized a few months ahead of the inauguration of Nigerian Association of Traditional Sports (NATS) by the defunct National Sports Commission, Nigeria, under Chief Alex Akinyele. This shows that the Federal Ministry of Education was one of the pioneers in revival and the promotion of Nigerian/African Indigenous Sports. However after this workshop, the Ministry slumped into a deep and long slumber until May, 2001 when it organized another workshop under the auspices of National Committee Workshop on Setting and Harmonizing Rules and Regulations to guide the teaching and playing of Traditional Sports in all educational institutions in Nigeria. The workshop took place at Shiroro Hotel, Minna, Niger State, Nigeria on 2nd – 5th May, 2001. The outcome of the workshop was later presented to the Joint Consultative Committee on Education (JCCE) which in turn later presented the approved recommendation on Traditional Sports to the National Council on Education.
The National Council on Education under the leadership of the then Minister of Education, Prof. Babalola Borishade eventually approved four Nigerian/African Indigenous sports to be introduced into our school curriculum. The approved sports were Abula, Ayo, Kokawa and Langa. Dambe was considered and dropped at the workshop level because of its combat nature.
This onerous approval ended the age long perdition that had been visited on African indigenous sports through slave trade, followed by colonialism and later, neocolonialism.
Hitherto, our African Indigenous Sports have never been taught or played in Our Schools under a bonafide approval. In fact, school authorities who were interested in our traditional sports did so on their individual private life. They were not even free or bold enough to openly promote teaching or playing of our indigenous sports in schools. So, the approval of these sports could be seen as one of the ways of promoting the new African Renaissance which President Olusegun Obasanjo and African Heads of States enunciated during his tenure in African Union. I believe it is a very good step, “TAKEN IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION.” There was a good follow up. A booklet on harmonized rules and regulations of the four traditional/indigenous sports was published and copies distributed to states ministries of education and some organizations related to sports and educational organizations.
Alas: two mishaps hit this steady progress that our indigenous sports were making.
*The Minister, Prof. Babalola Borishade had to leave Ministry of Education at the end of his 1st term and was not returned there.
*The President of traditional Sports Federation of Nigeria (2001/2005) Mallam Elias Yusuf who was a great motivator, proponent and advocate of traditional sports in that line of thought did not get the chance to take part for his re-election for second term in office.
Just before these two mishaps, the steady progress in getting our traditional sports to be fully actualized in our schools had reached the level of planning for Train-The-Trainers on them in our schools.
The Train-The Trainers was to involve training of Sports Masters selected from Federal Government Colleges, State Secondary Schools and other stakeholders in promotion of traditional sports in our schools. The Train-The-Trainers got Stuck. So our traditional sports got stuck again.
Should that be?
No, that should not be and it will not be. Our traditional sports should rise and come to life in our schools. This is more so, as Nigeria took three African traditional sports to the 8th All Africa Games as demonstration events. Nigeria is leader in initiating and promoting the African Renaissance. We were promoting the Heart of Africa Project, it can be said as we said at The 8th All African Games 2003 that ALL AFRICAN GAMES IS NOT COMPLETE WITHIOUT AFRICAN INDIGENOUS SPORTS; so also, the HEART OF AFRICA PROJECT SHOULD NOT BE COMPLETE WITHOUT PROMOTING AFRICAN INDIGENOUS SPORTS and especially in our schools.
If our indigenous sports are taught and played in our schools, they will not go into extinction, they will be propagated in the right way and that will be the basis of spreading them in our continent and outside our continent and that will be the beginning of promoting them to the Olympic Games in the near future. It is the right avenue to promote our sports among foreign nationals in the countries inside our continent. Our indigenes who are well educated and trained in our indigenous sport will also spread them when they go outside our countries and outside our continent and through our bilateral agreements.
The essence of promoting our indigenous sports now, is more challenging than ever before in view of the importance of sports to the world development now.
It should be noted that this millennium is going to eventually be proclaimed as SPORTS MILLENIUM. This is going to be so when computer and machines eventually take ‘all’ the jobs away from man.
It is sports that will be the main occupier of man’s time. It is the sports that will keep the human race useful and the culture-based sports will be very relevant.
It is now time to overcome the two mishaps and we move forward to promote our traditional sports in our schools.
The Federal Ministry of Education should set a good example for the African countries in promoting our traditional/indigenous sports through our school curriculum. The planned Train-The-Trainers project should come to life now, as Shakespeares says: “in delay, there lies no plenty.”
We must be proud of our indigenous sports. We cannot continue to remain mere consumers of other peoples sports and we leave our own undeveloped. Aggey said: “I am proud of my colour; he who is not proud of his colour is not fit to live.” James Brown went further; SAY IT LOUD, I AM BLACK AND PROUD; SAY IT LOUD, I AM BLACK AND PROUD!
Yes I am very proud of our African traditional sports.
Please let us; go through this poem:
SAFE OUR AFRICAN INDIGENOUS SPORTS
Safe our African indigenous sports
Savor our African indigenous sports
Recover them from perdition,
Rescue them from extinction,
Propagate them in our institutions,
Promote them to global distinction.
Our past, vividly shows that we were not brought up in our schools to be proud of our traditional sports. The question is, should that continue? Now is time to turn around the fortunes and the fun embedded in our African indigenous sports, especially in our schools-kindergarten, primary, secondary and tertiary. For your information Traditional Sports Federation of Nigeria (TSFN) is producing 21 gold, on the medal table from five (5) traditional sports; namely Abula, Ayo, Dambe, Kokawa and Langa at the biennial National Sports Festival in Nigeria and I am told that some Southern African countries have good programmes on their traditional/indigenous sports. Some East African countries and the West African counties too are doing quite well in promoting traditional sports. However Nigeria; took the bull by the horn as done at the 8th All African Games Abuja 2003 and went ahead to demonstrates African Traditional Sports at the 8th All Africa Games for the first time in the history of the Games. This is one of the ways of institutionalizing our indigenous sports in our African Institutions, schools, stadia, recreational grounds, parks, hotels, open spaces and so on. Africa wake up! Nigeria wakeup!! Federal and State Ministries of Education wake up!!! Wake up to promote African indigenous sports in our schools. We in Afrotradosports hereby use this forum to pay tribute to the departed Prof. Babalola Borishade as one of those who made major contribution to African Traditional Sports progress through Nigeria. He is hereby declared “ONE OF THE FOUR TRADITIONAL SPORTS FRIENDLY MINISTERS IN NIGERIA”. He presided over the 48th session of National Council on Education that approved Traditional Sports in Nigeria to be in the National School Curriculum under President Olusegun Obasanjo.
A write-up is coming, on the four Traditional Sports Friendly Ministers in Nigeria very soon.
Thank you for reading this piece. It is an act of patriotism to sport world wide.
Mallam Elias Yusuf.
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